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Blackbird71

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  1. I'm using one of the Masterson Handy Palettes, which seems to be a popular choice here. I'll have to try the baking parchment and see if that helps; I know my wife keeps a roll of the stuff in the kitchen. Instead of well palettes, the other thing I've been using when I need to preserve the paint for a while are some small plastic containers with lids that I got at Michael's in a package of 12 for about $4. They're not perfect, the seal isn't great and sometimes they still dry out, but they generally work, and I can mark my paint ratios on the lid so I know what each mix is.
  2. I'm pretty new to miniature painting, and I've been doing my painting for about an hour or two at a time. At the recommendation of several people on these forums and elsewhere, I decided to try using a wet palette to preserve paint from one session to the next. For those who use one, I have one question: how do you keep the paints from running everywhere? I usually find that a ratio of paint to water of about 3:1 gives me the right consistency for painting most things, but at this dilution, the paint tends to run a bit on the palette. It's not too bad, but it does spread the paint thin and it soaks into the palette surface a bit, so I actually end up getting less use out of the paint than if I use a well palette. Is there something I'm doing wrong? I thought about putting some small well palettes inside the wet palette, and I wondered if the humidity inside would be enough to keep the paints wet, or if it's necessary to have contact with the palette surface?
  3. That's one thing I liked about this particular kit, there were three different browns to get started with (Blackened Brown, Oiled Leather, and Ruddy Leather).
  4. Well, I had some time this weekend, and with the exception of the sealer coats, I've pretty much finished the monk: All in all, I don't think it was a bad effort. I'm pretty happy with how the pants turned out, as well as the weapon. The bands in his hair are still a mess, but they were only getting worse. I definitely need to work on my skills with hair shading/highlights. One thing I noticed when looking at it under magnification is that the lines between shades (particularly on his skin) were very clear and obvious. You don't see it as much when looking at the mini itself, but I need to work on blending the layers. I put in about 13-14 hours in total on this mini. When I had some downtime while layers on the monk were drying, I figured I could use some of the same colors on one of the Ral Partha minis. These ones are a bit different than the Reapers. They're made to a slightly smaller scale, which makes them a little harder to work with, but the detail isn't nearly as fine, so it kind of makes up for it. Here's the start: I know, he looks a bit like Santa Claus at the moment, but that should change once I cover up the rest of the primer. For the most part, I was just putting down some basecoats. I started by doing the smaller details first (sandals, pouch, sack, etc.), and then coloring the larger areas. I was using a larger brush to lay down the red, I'll go back with a smaller one to fill in the edges close to the other colors. The eyes in particular wer a problem with this one, as they are tucked deep in a corner inside the hood. I think I got them all right, but thankfully they're not all that visible!
  5. Good tip, thanks. Would you normally use a gloss or a matte sealer for this?
  6. Well, I contacted Reaper customer service about the brushes, and they told me that the "Sri Lanka" brushes I have are in fact the correct ones for the kit, and that the higher quality brushes are not supposed to be in the beginning kits. Kind of a bummer, because the brushes really are crap. It's not just that they don't hold a point, they don't even have a point to hold!
  7. Well, here's the update from yesterday: I'm afraid the lighting in the pictures isn't great; in addition to learning how to paint miniatures, I'm also learning how to photograph them! The pants are pretty much done, I still need to do highlights on the laces/belt/etc, and there is plenty of touch-up work to do. I almost didn't want to do shades and highlights on the pants because the basecoat seemed to naturally provide some shading effects that looked pretty good, but I'll admit it looks better this way. So far as brush sizes go, I'm using a 2/0 and a 3/0 for most of the small detail, I'm just not that good at it. Each time I try to fix some of my mistakes, there's a good chance that I'll add new ones, so I end up going back and forth between colors. One thing I'm learning is when to call it "good enough," and realize how unnoticeable a lot of the little mistakes really are. I know they're there because I put them there, but unless someone is going to go over this thing with a magnifying glass, I can get by with less than perfect. Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself. Since I'll be touching up some of the skin later, I could try taking the highlights a little brighter still. I've read that that advice is often given to new painters, and I can see why. Going any brighter just seems unnatural to someone as inexperienced as me; I have to just trust that it actually will look better. I keep track of the time as more of a metric of my own progress; down the road I'd like to compare how long it takes me to paint a mini to my first one. I've read some people's comments that they can usually do a mini in 2-3 hours. At this point, that is mind-boggling speed to me. So far, I'm up to about 7-8 hours invested, and I'm estimating another three to do details and touch-ups, plus there's the base to do as well. Thanks to everyone for all of the comments and encouragement! I tend to be my own worst critic, so it really helps to know that my first efforts aren't as bad as they sometimes seem to me.
  8. Thanks for all the encouragement, it's nice to know that my experience isn't too dissimilar from others'. I really am such a klutz though. I started work on the pants earlier, and somehow I managed to get a big red spot right on his chest - nowhere near where I was painting! Oh well, it's a good thing I still have all the skin tone mixes.
  9. I have some of the Master's Brush Cleaner, and I've been using it to clean my brushes after each painting session. There's a few of them that still don't quite like to come clean; is there any solvent you'd recommend for removing particularly stubborn paint? For anyone who is interested, I've begun documenting my efforts in the Works in Progress board here. Thanks again to everyone for helping me get started!
  10. I'm just getting started in the hobby of miniature painting, and I thought it would be good to document my progress with my first few minis here. I'm doing this for two reasons: 1) I'd like to get feedback as I progress in the hope that I can learn a thing or two from those more skilled and experienced than myself, and 2) I hope my experience can serve as a guide for other beginners looking for a place to start. My story so far: I've really been enjoying some tabletop campaigns recently, but my characters have been missing one thing: distinctive minis. Sure I could use old game pieces or paperclips or something to represent them on the board, but I like to flesh out my characters in every regard, and a good custom mini can help the other players see the character I have in my mind. Plus, they look cool! With that thought, I decided to try my hand at painting my own minis. Now, it's confession time: I've never really had any artistic talent whatsoever. Whether music, drawing, painting, etc., I've always managed to astound people with my lack of skill (just aks my wife!). I'm an engineer, I deal with precise measurable quantities and figures, so something like mixing paints and experimenting with tones is something of a challenge for me. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist, so a project like this has potential for frustration, as I know I'll probably never be satisfied with anything I paint. It will definitely be a learning experience as I teach myself to allow the imperfections and just move on. I'm also someone who overthinks everything I do, so before I started, I spent a couple of weeks researching various tutorials on techniques and recommended materials and tools. Armed with this information, and a great deal of advice from helpful people in the Tips & Advice board (here), I picked a starting point. I decided to go with the Reaper Learn to Paint Kit #2: Skin and Cloth. I did this for a few reasons, including the variety of colors, a full size bottle of primer, and two different brushes to help me get started. I also had some Ral Partha minis from an old TSR board game I've had sitting around for years that I thought would make good practice pieces. So, after ordering my kit, and a few trips to the local hobby and craft stores to stock up on supplies, work began. My wife is joining me in this endeavor, so one evening we started by just priming several of the minis: (Click to enlarge) Overall, this went pretty well. We put about 2-3 coats on each of the four minis on the left; the two on the right only got a single coat (I actually wasn't planning on painting these two yet, but I had a bunch of primer left on my palette that I didn't want to waste). The hardest thing was probably getting the consistency right. It had to be thin enough that it wouldn't clump and obscure details, but thick enough that it would actually stick to the metal surface and not slide right off. A 5:2 mix of primer to water seemed about right. Filling in all the nooks and crannies was tricky, especially on the textured bases, but a little time and patience paid off, and we got a good coating. The next evening, I started painting the monk mini that came with the Reaper kit. For the most part, I followed the steps in the instructions that came with the kit. One exception is that I painted the eyes first, following the guide here. Doing the eyes first in the way described here just made sense to me, and I liked the result. Anyway, I got through the skin and hair that night, and here are the results: Now, when I examine this work closely, I see all sorts of imperfections: rough lines, shading that's either too wide or too narrow, sloppy brush work, etc. But overall, for a first attempt, I'm pretty well pleased with the results so far. I think that one of my biggest obstacles is that I lack the fine motor control to put the brush where I want it, especially with the smaller details. The result is that each time I apply a new color or layer, I inevitibly get some paint on a part I've already done, so I spend a lot of time going back and retouching areas I've already painted just to fix my mistakes. I'm hoping that this level of control is something I can develop through practice, because if it has to be a natural-born talent, then I'm doomed! One thing I found that helped was keeping my paint mixes in small sealable containers. This made it easy to go back and get a little of a color I had used before when I needed to paint over a mistake. A problem I ran into was when I discovered a chunk of excess metal on one of his sandals that I had missed before priming. Once I put paint on it, it looked particularly ugly. So I had to cut, file, prime, and paint the side of his foot all over again. I thought I had been pretty thorough in looking for this stuff when I first prepped the minis, but it just goes to show that it's worth going over the whole thing a few extra times to make sure, as it's much easier to remove the stuff before you start painting. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have painted the bands in his hair before doing the hair itself. As it is now, it's going to be impossible for me to keep the brush on those tiny narrow lines, and I'm sure I'll be repainting a lot of the hair. If I'd done the bands first, then I could have easily covered the slop when doing the hair the first time. Of course, you can see how much overlap I got onto the bands from painting the hair and skin, so I may have had the same trouble anyway, but like the eyes, it seems to be a good rule of thumb to paint the smallest details first, and then paint the surrounding area. So far I've easily sunk 4-5 hours into painting this one mini, and I'm expecting it to take at least that long to finish it. We'll see how it goes from here!
  11. That's good to know about the priming; the pictures with the kit instructions show what looks like an even white coat with no color from the metal showing through. Thanks for the info. The Reaper brushes do actually say "Sri Lanka" on them, and I guess the handles are more of a brown than red. Is this a mistake I should talk to customer service about?
  12. Well, I put my first brush to minis last night, putting primer on a few pieces. All in all it went pretty well. The primer seemed a little thin, as even after 2-3 coats, the color of the metal still showed through in some places, but any thicker and it was in danger of obscuring detail. It seemed to have the most trouble building up on smooth surfaces, so I may go back over those areas with a slightly thicker mix before adding color. The thing is, I'm not trying to win the Daytona 500, I just want to take the car for a test drive around the block. I'm only planning on upgrading if the hobby seems like something I will enjoy long term, but for now I just need something good enough to get the job done during the trial run. As for the brushes I used, I really wasn't impressed with the Reaper brushes included in the learn to paint kit; they were red sable, and the bristles were very splayed and would not hold a point at all. They worked okay for priming and could be good for large areas, but I don't think I'll use them for detail work. I had also picked up a cheap pack of Taklons at the hobby store. For under $7, I got a 2/0, 0, 1, and 2, and they actually worked pretty well. I know many of you have said to just go for the good Kolinsky sables, but I had a few reasons for trying these. First off, in order to get started, I wanted to have a variety of brush sizes avalable until I learned what I prefered; I wasn't about to drop $60 to get a spread of Kolinskys. This way, I can get to know the brushes and get the good ones in the sizes of my choice. Time was also an issue. I wanted to start practicing and learning, and since no stores in my area carry the series 7s, I'd have had to order them and wait, or settle for some medium-high quality art brushes that I'd feel worse about replacing later. Bottom line, the Taklons are working well enough for now, and if I decide to stick with it, I'll get the Kolinskys later and the Taklons will make good mixing and sealer brushes. I think I'll start another thread to document my progress with some pics of my work. If anyone feels inclined, maybe you can offer some pointers as I go along. Thanks again to everyone for all of the great suggestions and advice!
  13. I believe the learn-to-paint kit comes with a pair of brushes that'll give you a good start. With that in mind I wouldn't buy more brushes unless they were high-quality Kolinsky Sables. (I've broken this rule, picking up a cheap set of red sable flats that're pretty good for basecoating terrain.) Be sure to keep the old brushes even if you upgrade, though: they're handy for brushing on primer and sealer (if you go that route), spreading PVA glue around bases, mixing paints, drybrushing, and other tasks that might damage your good brushes. The kit comes with a 0 and a 00, I was more looking at getting some larger sizes. They're about $6-7 for 4-5 brushes, and I figure that they can always be relegated to mixing and sealing when I upgrade to the better stuff.
  14. One more question on brushes: if you had a choice between Taklon or Red Sable, which would you choose? Or does it make a difference? My local hobby store has some inexpensive sets of various sized brushes in both materials, and I thought they would be a good place to start before going for the higher quality tools.
  15. Both this article and the "primer on primer" linked to in the beginning are a big help, thanks!
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